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Monday | June 14, 2021
The Spiderwick Chronicles (Wii)

The Spiderwick Chronicles (Wii)

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The Chronicles originally started life as a children’s book series and this week is being released as a feature film and as often is the case with kiddie movies we get the obligatory videogame tie in. The game is made by Stormfront Studio’s and is published by Sierra.

The Titular Chronicles are an encyclopaedia of the hidden fantasy world as discovered by Arthur Spiderwick, everything he found he recorded in a diary. You, as the player take control of three siblings when they discover this guide after moving into his old mansion.

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The movement of the game is controlled by the Nunchuk’s analog stick and unlike most Wii games there is a camera control option gained by holding the C button and tilting the nunchuk. It doesn’t really work that well however it is usable and at least Stormfront made the effort to let the player handle some of the camera angles. To fight you swing the Wiimote or press the A button and as I tend to be lazy it won’t take you long guessing the method I prefer. Kids of a younger age however will thoroughly enjoy swinging the wiimote!

If you are rather confused by the whole game concept, fear not, is it basically a rather glossed up action adventure game with a smattering of puzzle solving. The game has been designed from the ground up to be approachable and engaging for a younger audience with a rather enjoyable feel.  The puzzles never really prove challenging until later and even then they rarely require deep thought, which is obviously intentional.

Combat is primarily a button mashfest however it works well enough in the concept of the game and as you defeat the goblins you can pick their teeth up to gain new combat abilities. These new abilities frequently just add another move to a simple button press combination, rest assured you won’t be learning Virtua Fighter combinations.

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Finding sprites gives your characters new magical abilities, such as faster movement or added strength as well as healing skills. To catch a sprite you lure them into your net, via a mini game, requiring you to water color a portrait of the creature. It’s all charming for younger players and the game frees you from the need to continually do this, once you catch enough of a particular breed.

The graphics are barely acceptable even for the Wii, the initial setup is certainly required as the whole game by default is very dark. Unfortunately Stormfront haven’t really spent a lot of time making the game as attractive as it really should be, there is a certain blandness about the game structure and design and there are some rather serious issues with Collision detection. When your character swings his bat, he can frequently do so right through walls and doors and other objects in the environment. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it just looks extremely shoddy and could have been easily avoided with a little more care and attention. This same feeling of rushed release carries over to many of the cut scenes and scripted pieces with disappearing creatures and poorly designed locations. One of the in game characters lives in a stream, yet his body doesn’t cause the water to ripple at all, this obviously shatters the illusion of real water and it ends up looking more like a glass surface.

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Graphical negatives aside, the game is clearly aimed at younger kids and there is a lot of help on hand for this audience. I left the game running for my young daughter to play and when I returned she was happy playing along with it without any interaction from anyone else. There is also the aforementioned Field Guide, which helps with any troubleshooting required if you get stuck.

Although the graphics are substandard, the audio is excellent with some wonderful sound effects available, the toy pianos in the game had my daughter enthralled for quite some time ! The voice acting is a mixed bag, the voices are obviously handled by professional actors, however the mouth synching is frequently out of time.

As this is a tie in, many of the cut scenes relate to the movie this game is adapted from, and for the most part they work well. There are some inconsistencies, but it seems rather obnoxious of me to start listing them as I am clearly not in the target audience age group.

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All in all the game is rather charming, even with the flaws mentioned above and it will certainly appeal to innocent children with high levels of imagination who love to be immersed in a fantasy world. Parents can also rest assured that there is nothing in this game that will warrant their constant attention, imagine the polar opposite of Grand Theft Auto. This is in fact the game’s biggest strength, its innocence. It remains fairly true to Holly Black’s books as well which should appeal purists and while certain accommodations are met for the genre, it still remains firmly planted in the charming and intriguing world that Holly created. It is just a shame that the graphical attention to detail is sometimes sadly lacking.

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Developer Stormfront have created a game with spellbinding music and a high level of gameplay variety, the story is strong and the environments are charming. Hopefully for many young children this will be the first innocent adventure into the wonderful world of adventure gaming.


Enough variety to keep young children entertained. More mature gamers will get bored quickly.
Quite poor, dark muddy graphics. Instantly forgettable.
Dramatic music and eerie sound effects certainly set the mood.
Reasonable value for money, especially if you are buying for a younger child.
(not an average)
A game for the younger audience out there, quite charming and will appeal to kids with an open mind for innocent fantasy adventuring.


About Author

Stuart Davidson

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